Category Archives: ECONNED

Memo to Readers: If You Want to Beat Big Finance, You Need to be Able to Take the Fight to Their Terrain

We are now 35 years into a finance-led counterrevolution. If you care about income inequality, student loan debt slavery, foreclosure abuses, and other products of the success of this effort, it behooves you, as Sun Tzu urged, to understand your enemy.


Stephen Roach Takes the Fed to the Woodshed

While the Fed appears to be getting nervous about increasing (and long overdue) criticism for its undue coziness with banks, it has for the most part ignored opponents of its aggressive monetary policies. And for good reason. Most of them have been fixated on the risk of inflation, which is not in the cards as long as labor bargaining power remains weak. There are other, more substantial grounds for taking issue with the central bank’s policies. For instance, gooding asset prices widens income and wealth inequality, which in the long term is a damper on growth. Moreover, one can argue that the sustained super-accommodative policy gave the impression that Something Was Being Done, which took the heat off the Administration to push for more spending. Indeed, the IMF recently found that infrastructure spending pays for itself, with each dollar of spending in an economy with high unemployment generating nearly $3 in GDP growth. And a lot of people are uncomfortable for aesthetic or pragmatic reasons. Aesthetically, a lot of investors, even ones that have done well, are deeply uncomfortable with a central bank meddling so much. And many investors and savers are frustrated by their inability to invest at a positive real yield without being forced to take on a lot of risk.

Stephen Roach, former chief economist of Morgan Stanley and later its chairman for Asia, offers a straightforward, sharply-worded critique: just as in the runup to the crisis of 2007-2008, the Fed’s failure to raise rates is leading to an underpricing of financial market risk, or in layspeak, to the blowing of bubbles. He argues that has to end badly.


Who Wins in the Financial Casino?

I received a message last week from a savvy reader, a former McKinsey partner who has also done among other things significant pro-bono work with housing not-for-profits (as in he has more interest and experience in social justice issues than most people with his background). His query:

We both know that financialization has, among so many other things, turned large swaths of the capital markets into a casino

Here’s my thought/question: is there a house?

The common wisdom is that the ‘house wins’ in casinos.

So, who or what was really the ‘house’?


The Fed’s Exit Problem: Symptom of Paradigm Breakdown?

Yves here. This Real News Network interview with Yilmaz Akyüz, chief economist at the South Centre and former director and chief economist at UNCTAD, focuses on the conundrum of the Fed’s need to exit from QE from an international perspective, and layers in the further complication that China is not going to keep up its investment spending at the same level. Akyüz argues that “….we have problems at the end of the crisis which are as big as the ones during the crisis, and these problems are largely due to mismanagement of the crisis, particularly in the U.S. and Europe.”

But I’m not sure it’s as simple as mismanagement.


Who Should Young People Throw Under the Bus: Granny or Billionaire Hedgie Stan Druckenmiller?

Without attempting to wade too deeply into the goo of Friedman’s latest column, let’s limit ourselves to the the fact that Friedman is running PR for former Soros Fund Management lead investor Stan Druckenmiller. The column also serves to illustrate how Serious People like Friedman were ready to jump on the deficit cutting bandwagon once the shutdown/debt ceiling drama was put to rest for a bit.

Druckemiller’s latest cause is to foment generational warfare.


Former Representative Brad Miller: Naked Capitalism – My Hot Sheet on Finance

Matt Taibbi described in “How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform” the many ways “the banks strangled the Dodd-Frank law,” including the effort by House Republicans after the 2010 election to “pass a gazillion loopholes.”

“You might wonder,” Taibbi wrote, “how a bunch of lunkhead Republican Congressmen would even know how to write a coordinated series of ‘technical fixes’ to derivatives legislation, a universe so complicated that it has become hard to find anyone on the Hill who truly understands the subject. (One Congressman who sits on the Financial Services Committee laughingly admitted that when the crash of 2008 happened, he had to look up ‘credit default swaps’ on Wikipedia.)”

Yeah, that was me.


What the Orgy of “Lehman Five Years On” Stories Missed

One of the reasons I haven’t weighed in with the obligatory Lehman five year anniversary piece is that so many of them are variations on a limited range of themes. So it may be more instructive to discuss the stories that it would have been nice to see instead.


Economics Debunked: Chapter Two for Sixth Graders

Readers gave high marks to Andrew Dittmer’s summary of a dense but very important paper by Claudio Borio and Piti Disyatat of the BIS and asked if he could produce more of the same.

While Andrew, a recent PhD in mathematics, has assigned himself some truly unpleasant tasks, like reading every bank lobbying document he could get his hands on to see what their defenses of their privileged role amounted to, he has yet to produce any output from these endeavors that are ready for public consumption.

However, I thought readers might enjoy one of Andrew’s older works.


The Very Important and of Course Blacklisted BIS Paper About the Crisis

Admittedly, my RSS reader is hardly a definitive check, but it does cover a pretty large number of financial and economics websites, including those of academics. And from what I can tell, an extremely important paper by Claudio Borio and Piti Disyatat of the BIS, “Global imbalances and the financial crisis: Link or no link?” has been relegated to the netherworld. The Economist’s blog (not the magazine) mentioned it in passing, and a VoxEU post on the article then led the WSJ economics blog to take notice. But from the major economics publications and blogs, silence.

Why would that be? One might surmise that this is a case of censorship.